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Posted on September 22, 2021


In partnership with HelpMeSee, a New York based not-for-profit, Malagasy Ministry of Public Health, Malagasy Ministry of superior education, Malagasy Society of Ophthalmology and Polyclinique D’llafy  have agreed to train 100 general practitioners to perform high-quality, low-cost cataract procedures to end the backlog of cataract blindness in Madagascar. 

Bringing new hope to the cataract blind, the new eye surgery training center is now operational in Madagascar, uniting diverse partners in the fight against cataract blindness.

Located at Polyclinique D’IIafy in Antananarivo, the project will train 100 general practitioners in Manual Small Incision Cataract Surgery (MSICS) over three years, in order to triple the surgical capacity for cataract care in Madagascar.  The partnership has been created as a result of an agreement between the Malagasy Ministry of Health, Polyclinique D’llafy , Malagasy Ministry “of superior education”, Malagasy Society of Ophthalmology and HelpMeSee, which delivers a comprehensive curriculum based on the HelpMeSee High Fidelity Eye Simulator- based training designed to achieve surgical competency.

According to the World Health Organization, Madagascar, a country of 28 million has more than 150,000 people who are bilaterally blind due to untreated cataracts. Up to now, the challenge is a shortage of cataract specialists who can perform the surgery. It’s a problem throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

In fact, today, according to the Malagasy Ministry of Public Health, only 25 surgeons are available to perform life-changing cataract surgery in Madagascar, meaning only 372 surgeries are performed each year for every million people in need.  It is estimated that only 10% of the new cataract cases are operated on annually, steadily and dramatically increasing the backlog of cases awaiting surgery.

This innovative partnership began in 2015, when Dr. Jean Marie Andre, HelpMeSee’s Medical Officer, began training surgeons in Madagascar.  His work gained the interest of the Malagasy Ministry of Health, as multiple surgeons learned to transition from extracapsular cataract extraction ( to the manual small incision cataract surgery (MSICS) procedure.  Now, these trained surgeons, led by Professor Lea Roabella, head of ophthalmology at HRJA Hospital, are being qualified by Dr. Andre using the HelpMeSee training system at Polyclinique D’llafy, allowing general practitioners to perform this sight restoring procedure.

The training is based on HelpMeSee’s simulation-based program, which employs an innovative, cutting-edge virtual reality surgical simulator along with sophisticated courseware software to support the high-volume training of cataract specialists.  By training new cataract specialists at scale, HelpMeSee works with partners as part of a healthcare ecosystem to increase surgical capacity, and especially competency, while delivering low-cost eye care to people who desperately need it.

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